The report was shocking, but one response to it was "repugnant." So says Australia, which earlier this month released a military report that found "credible information" evidence that elite Australian troops murdered 39 Afghan prisoners, farmers, and civilians. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao on Monday tweeted a fabricated image to his 780,000 followers, reports the Wall Street Journal. It seems to refer to allegations that soldiers knifed two Afghan 14-year-old boys to death; the report didn't find evidence of that particular crime. The BBC reports the tweet reads, "Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian soldiers. We strongly condemn such acts, and call for holding them accountable." The image (warning: graphic) shows a child holding a lamb; an Australian soldier holds bloody knife to the child's throat.
The image is captioned with the line, "Don't be afraid, we are coming to bring you peace!" Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants an apology from China, who he says should be "utterly ashamed" for sharing the "repugnant" and "false" image, which is a "terrible slur on our defense forces." China didn't seem ruffled by the comments, with a Foreign Ministry rep saying, "It's not China which should be ashamed, but Australia." CNBC reports Morrison has also called on Twitter to take down the image, but it remained accessible as of this writing. The move comes as relations between the two countries are at a low, with Australia having called for a probe into how the COVID-19 pandemic started in China, and China slapping tariffs on some Australian goods. The Journal calls the tweet "the latest example of a combative approach by China’s once low-key diplomats." (Read more Australia stories.)